Athlete of the Month, November 2008 – Joe Vrablik
Athlete of the Month
Need a challenge? Race a triathlon, that’s what our Athlete of the Month did. Meet Joe Vrablik!
D3: What was your motivation to get started in triathlon?
JV: For various reasons, my life had just hit rock bottom. I was overweight, out of shape and not much to be proud of. Something in me just reached a point of being tired of it all. I started working out and losing weight. A friend in the office at the time was training for Ironman Lake Placid. He worked out with me occasionally and was very encouraging. He challenged me to race a triathlon the following summer. I accepted.
Triathlon has helped you improve your overall health, tell us about the journey.
JV:After I started working out, a friend of mine offered to swim with me. He was training for Ironman Lake Placid at the time and logging a lot of yards in the pool. At the time, I was swimming a lot since it was low impact and I enjoyed it. He encouraged me to think about racing a tri at some point. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to do it. It gave me a focus and a goal to work towards. Once I completed my first race, I was hooked. I originally thought I only wanted to do a sprint. That changed quickly. I started to think about completing an Olympic, then a half, then a full iron. The more I raced, the further I went, the more accomplished I felt.
D3: How important has goal setting been?
JV:Extremely important. Setting these various goals gives me a focus. When things get rough, it helps to distract me. When I’m just training, without a goal, I tend to lose focus and slide back into old habits that I’d rather keep buried.
D3: How has your D3 coach helped you with your goals?
JV: I can honestly say that I would not have reached where I am today without the help and guidance of my coach. Coach AJ is extremely knowledgeable and receptive to my own thoughts. He also gives me the swift kick in the ass when needed. I can’t thank them enough (Courtney, Mike and Mel as well) for all the support they’ve given me over the years.
D3: When and where was your first race?
JV:It was the first race in the Race the Rockies series at Boulder Res in June 2004. The series only lasted that one summer, unfortunately. The second race was in Estes Park. The swim was in Lake Estes. We froze! (Although one idiot completed the swim wearing just a Speedo!) Absolutely gorgeous site for a race, though.
D3: You’ve traveled quite a bit as a triathlete; tell us about your favorite “away” race?
JV: I’d say it’s a tie between Ironman Wisconsin and St. Croix 70.3. Both are extremely well-run races and have phenomenal support from the local communities, St. Croix especially so. Two nights before the race, the main town of Christiansted throws a huge party called “Jump Up”. Sort of a mini Mardi Gras. And hey, it’s the Caribbean.
D3: You’ve done quite a few Ironmen, why do you like that distance?
JV:There’s so much about the distance that I love. The training for that distance requires a certain focus that spills over into the rest of my life, which is always a bonus. At the end of the day, though, you can’t beat the feeling of accomplishment and the emotion you feel when you cross the finish line. To accomplish something like that, no one can ever take away that feeling.
D3: If you could spend a day training with anyone, who would it be?
JV: Truthfully, just someone close to me or that I race with. Just meeting someone for a day of training wouldn’t mean much to me if I didn’t already know them.
D3: What’s in your race future?
In the near future is Ironman Wisconsin next September. I have certain goals that I’m hoping to meet. From there I’m hoping to travel some more to races. Perhaps overseas, even. Any recommendations?